The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding
|The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding|
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell|
|Summary: a well-written tale of revolution, dark magic, and a quest for an ancient game-changing artifact set in a well-built and well-realised epic fantasy world.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 832||Date: September 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
A land under occupation. A legendary sword. A young man's journey to find his destiny. Aren has lived by the rules all his life. He's never questioned it; that's just the way things are. But then his father is executed for treason, and he and his best friend Cade are thrown into a prison mine, doomed to work until they drop. Unless they can somehow break free . . But what lies beyond the prison walls is more terrifying still. Rescued by a man who hates him yet is oath-bound to protect him, pursued by inhuman forces, Aren slowly accepts that everything he knew about his world was a lie. The rules are not there to protect him, or his people, but to enslave them. A revolution is brewing, and Aren is being drawn into it, whether he likes it or not. The key to the revolution is the Ember Blade. The sword of kings, the Excalibur of his people. Only with the Ember Blade in hand can their people be inspired to rise up... but it's locked in an impenetrable vault in the most heavily guarded fortress in the land. All they have to do now is steal it...
It's hard to pin down who exactly the protagonist of the novel, since all of the major characters get a few chapters written from their point of view, even one of the major antagonists. But, the two characters who get the most narrative focus are Aren, whose chapters chronicle his journey from a naïve young boy, to a brave young man fighting for Ossia's freedom, and Aren's best friend Cade, the son of a carpenter with dreams of being a greycloak (the supposed resistance to the Krodan occupation), who also loves to tell stories and generally entertain his fellow adventurers. They are being hunted by the Iron Hand, the Krodan secret police, headed up by Klyssen, whose viewpoint chapters do a very good job of humanising him, rather than presenting him as a one-dimensional plot device.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this book is the sheer amount of world-building in it. The story takes place in Ossia, a country which has been occupied by the Krodans for thirty years, and whose culture is slowly being eroded and replaced by Krodan culture. Meanwhile, the Krodans are preparing for the wedding of Prince Ottico to princess Sorrel of Harrow, the second most powerful nation after Kroda. Other nations are mentioned as well including the half-viking, half-Inuit Skarl, the Buddhist-like Xulan and the dark world of The Outsiders which lurks beyond this realm of existence, threatening to break through. Most of it is given in stories told by Cade (a few of which, particularly relating to the Dawnwardens and the fall of Ossia, have an impact on the plot and form the basis of a few major plot twists later in the book), as well as through the viewpoint chapters of various other major characters. Even the world's planetary system, the names of the moons and the length of its week is mentioned. This doesn't by any means make the book less enjoyable, far from it, it shows how committed to realising the world Wooding is, and it certainly pays off.
Overall, this is a well-written tale of revolution, dark magic, and a quest for an ancient game-changing artifact set in a well-built and well-realised epic fantasy world.
Other, similar books: The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper – a similar tale of adventure and a quest for a legendary artifact.
Rebellion: Tainted Realm: Book 2 by Ian Irvine – another story of revolution and reclaiming one's homeland in an epic fantasy world.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.